The Arran Banner
Updated:24/08/18, 8:01 am
By Hugh Boag
A leading Arran environmentalist is taking part in a major climate change summit in the US.
And one of the ambitious proposals he will be taking to the summit is how to make Arran carbon-neutral in the next few years.
Howard Wood, the co-founder and chairman of the Community of Arran Seabed Trust (COAST), will travel to San Francisco next month to take part in the Global Climate Action Summit as a climate trailblazer.
The 22 climate trailblazers reflect the global nature of the summit, which aims to bring together the best in international climate change activity from across the world. They will humanise the event as they will show through their actions that everyday people can do extraordinary things.
And Howard aims to show how Arran individuals, businesses and community groups that are already doing a great job in tackling climate change with renewable and environmentally friendly projects on the island, not least of which is COAST.
He said: ‘There is a tremendous amount of work going on on Arran to improve the environment which I intend to highlight at the conference, some of which I am aware of and some, of which, I am sure I do not.’
Howard will also be taking an island commitment to be carbon neutral in the next few years to next month’s summit, but without a definite timetable.
He said: ‘We are all agreed it’s a target we need to achieve, but before putting a date on it we need to build a full island audit of both energy use and stored carbon in the environment. However, I am confident that with both Scottish government and North Ayrshire Council support, with funding and expert advice, Arran as a carbon neutral island can be achieved within a few years.
‘My personnel commitment is to campaign tirelessly to protect and conserve blue carbon stores. It’s a win win situation, basically a no brainer, if the Scottish government are serious about both reducing the effects of climate change and stopping biodiversity loss.’
Howard said the South Arran marine protected area could go along way to assisting with this goal as the four kilometre stretch of sea grass at Whiting Bay, and the mearl and kelp beds, which are now protected, are excellent sources of carbon capture.
However he believes that the Scottish Government is not doing enough to protect blue carbon capture and hopes to question First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on the subject when she visits Arran next week.
Along with Howard the only other European delegate is British inventor Adam Dixon of Cardiff based Phytoponics who has has developed technology allowing a wide variety of crops to be grown highly efficiently and productively using hydroponics.
The three-day summit Howard is attending will take place from Wednesday September 12 in San Francisco and Howard received his personal invitation, through the Goldman Foundation, from the Californian Governor Jerry Brown.
The summit will bring leaders and people together from around the world to: ‘Take ambition to the next level.’ Organisers say it will be a moment to celebrate the extraordinary achievements of states, regions, cities, companies, investors and citizens with respect to climate action.
It will also be a launchpad for deeper worldwide commitments and accelerated action from countries—supported by all sectors of society—that can put the globe on track to prevent dangerous climate change and realise the historic Paris Agreement.
At the heart of the Paris agreement is the commitment by national governments to review their progress and rachet up the ambition of national climate action plans, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
The summit, happening midway between Paris 2015 and Poland in 2020, is timed to provide the confidence to governments to ‘step up’ and trigger this next level of ambition sooner rather than later.
The summit will also consider range of new climate commitments under five key areas: Healthy Energy Systems, Inclusive Economic Growth, Sustainable Communities, Land and Ocean Stewardship and Transformative Climate Investments.
A spokesman for the conference organisers said: ‘The confidence, enthusiasm and support generated by this wave of action now and through 2019, will embolden national governments leaders to trigger the necessary domestic processes ahead of 2020 while also triggering more states and regions, cities, businesses and investors to ‘step up’ further action themselves.’
Howard added: ‘It is a wonderful opportunity to go and tell the world the tremendous work that a small island corner of the planet is doing to fight climate change.’
Howard, a well-known marine environmentalist , diver and campaigner was awarded an OBE for services to the marine environment and in 2015 was a recipient of the Goldman Prize , often referred to as the Green Nobel, for his decades of work on marine conservation in Scotland.